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Putting Americans back to work with green jobs

Dr. Stephanie A. Burns, Dow Corning Corporation

America is at the dawn of a new energy era-a transformation that will provide more clean energy-producing options like solar, wind, and other renewable sources.

Such a transformation will require that we forge a new path forward with federal leadership and private industry investment. Working together, we can achieve integrated policy prescriptions that address education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, technology deployment, and market readiness.

The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a significant first step toward establishing new clean-technology manufacturing jobs here in the U.S.

I'm pleased to tell you that Dow Corning benefits from the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, our customers are benefitting, and that the green jobs in our operations are real.

As you know, however, this tax credit was capped at $2.3 billion and was significantly oversubscribed. Both the White House and the Department of Energy have said that there were many viable projects that were not funded. With that in mind, I hope that this credit can be made permanent in any Energy, Climate, or Jobs bill now under development. This will help propel America into an era of sustained, renewable energy use and help put Americans back to work.

To build on that and truly implement the transformation before us, Dow Corning proposes a four-point plan to address the technical, legislative, regulatory, manufacturing, and workforce-related factors that influence America's ability to develop a thriving, domestic, renewable energy industry.

First, we encourage Congress and the Obama Administration to enact new federal policies and regulations that will encourage the rapid development and deployment of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. We can create new jobs and businesses and promote U.S. competitiveness in the global market, improve the environment and increase our energy security. Federal tax incentives that spur domestic manufacturing, a robust federal Renewable Electricity Standard, and federal interconnection and net metering standards are all part of that effort.

There is an immediate need for targeted tax credits for manufacturing. Despite anticipated domestic growth in renewable-energy installations, the majority of manufacturing occurs outside of the United States.   

With countries like China, Germany, Malaysia, and the Philippines all courting American companies with roughly 40 percent manufacturing tax credits and high demand markets, the United States needs to consider comparable approaches to encourage the growth and stability of a domestic market. When a corporation is looking to build a manufacturing facility, we need to ensure that the competition for the site is between states here at home, not countries overseas.

Second, we advocate increased federal funding for research and development to accelerate solar technology innovation and advance solar manufacturing capabilities.

Third, we support the need to develop a green collar workforce, by supporting training programs-like the programs Dow Corning is already co-sponsoring with Delta College in Michigan and Austin Peay State University in Tennessee-as well as training partnerships with non-profit organizations and Centers of Excellence at academic institutions nationwide.

Fourth, we need the federal government to "lead by example" in the implementation of clean technologies, through procurement of on-site generation, building retrofits for energy efficiency, and new green building standards.

Finally, but certainly no less important, Congress must ensure that new policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions do not inadvertently discourage growth in the manufacturing and production of renewable energy sources.

Dow Corning employees are coming to work every day, energized to be part of the solution. We are committed to a climate of collaboration, creativity and urgency for greater energy security. As a global company, we know it is fundamental to protecting our nation's competitiveness in the decades to come.


For the Record is an edited excerpt of the testimony of Dr. Stephanie A. Burns, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Dow Corning Corporation, before the House Committee on Ways and Means in Washington, D.C. in April 2010.

November/December 2010